Apr 19th 2021
In part two of our series focusing on cut
quality we ratchet things up & bring out the bigger blades including
one you may not often associate with composite materials.
Diamond Wheels & Tungsten Carbide
Special bits or blades are needed to cut most composite materials. A Diamond Wheel provides significant advantages for cutting through most any laminate edge, as diamond is harder than any other cutting material. Tungsten carbide cutting blades will cut laminates as well but will only provide a sharp cutting surface for half that of a diamond coated blade. (Tip: The thinner the cutting blade, the easier it will be to get through any laminate.) For diameter sizing of the blade, smaller diameter blades (1/2 - 1") will dull quicker, however will allow for tighter dimensional criteria whereas a larger blade (2-5") may last longer but may not get into tighter areas. For almost any tough or thick laminate, a diamond wheel attached to a rotary tool is by far the best option when cutting any given composite edge.
A band saw is commonly used in industrial processes as available. Though the band saw is used ideally to cut metals they can be used to cut composite laminates that are flat or need straight cuts. Fences and other locating features are generally used to provide dimensional stability for laminates when a straight cut is preferred. Many band saws come equipped with a coolant aid or bath. As the large diameter blades carry from the cutting surface, they are dipped into a coolant bath below. Band saws are affected less by heat as the blades are exposed to coolant between each cut through the parts surface and are not exposed to the composite's material as often (per surface area). Metal cutting blades with small teeth are generally used with a band saw for cutting composite materials. Using a band saw is an option when cutting panels or performing straight cuts into small intricate parts for quality needs. It allows to keep the parts cutting surface cool even through cutting thicker pieces. It is also good for repeated cuts as when the part is set on the "fence" or locating tool, it can be cut again without pause for heat placed on the blade surfaces.
In Part 3 of this series next Monday we take a look at two more tools & their cut qualities. One of these almost everyone has on their tool bench and another that your average person most definitely does not have just sitting around in the garage.